Because terrorists tend to engage in mass murder, it is appropriate federal authorities have targeted them. But what of a more insidious, deadlier kind of terrorism, motivated solely by greed, not ideology? Shouldn't Washington be doing more to protect Americans from it?
Victims of this sort of home-grown terrorism usually are tallied in single-digit numbers rather than the scores or hundreds claimed by those who target skyscrapers, airplanes and now, a marathon race. But each year, the illegal drug trade kills more Americans than have died in terrorist attacks during the past 20 years - including Sept. 11, 2001.
About 15,300 Ameri-cans were killed by overdoses of illegal drugs in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Con-trol. Many of the more than 22,000 overdose deaths from prescription drugs were due to abuse.
And, as residents of our area know only too well, many victims of drug terrorists never touch illicit substances. They live in communities - like Steubenville - that have become battlegrounds for violent drug pushers.
Much of the violence in Steubenville during recent months has involved invaders from other places who see the Ohio Valley as a market for their illegal drugs. "The Chicago boys," as some local residents describe them, have unleashed a reign of terror on Steubenville. Local authorities admit the scale and violence of the invasion has been overwhelming. Given the fact some Chicago drug gangs possess enough firepower to stage a coup in a small country, that is no reflection on the courage and dedication of local law enforcement officers.
Make no mistake about it: This is a war, just as certainly as the one being waged by the nation against militant Muslim terrorists.
Just a few days ago, U.S. Drug Enforcement Admini-stration head Michele Leonhardt testified before a congressional committee looking at her agency's $2.4 billion budget request. Though the DEA already receives about four times what it did 20 years ago, the war on drugs is not going well.
Just ask the people of Steubenville.
As Leonhardt explained to lawmakers, the DEA must set priorities. Shutting down major drug kingpins is one goal. Theoretically that will help beleaguered communities such as Steubenville, eventually.
But how many lives will be lost in the Ohio Valley before "eventually" comes?
No doubt there are many towns and cities like Steubenville competing for help against the drug terrorists. But Leonhardt and her subordinates should understand that the front lines in this war are in communities such as ours - and that concentrating DEA force on pushers such as "the Chicago boys" can, while helping the towns and cities they victimize, lead the agency up a ladder to drug kingpins.
If all this sounds like a plea for more DEA help in Steubenville, it is. A few weeks of work by a DEA strike force in our area could reap rich rewards for the agency and help local law enforcement agencies end a plague.